The most common phrase in the Bible is “Do not be afraid” (or some version thereof). It is no accident that it appears 365 times—one time for every day of the year.
Part of our human nature is to worry. We all want to feel like we know where we are headed and how to get there. The reality is, however, that there are times in our lives when we feel lost and confused. It is at these times when we become filled with anxiety. What should I do? What will happen to me?
Someone once told me, “Worry is a bully. Everything you have done up until this point in your life has prepared you in some way for the challenges you are facing today. The rest is up to God.” At the time, this concept was so foreign to me that I had to pause for a moment to allow the words to sink in. It was in this brief moment of contemplation that I came to realize she was telling me we are all equipped to deal with whatever is coming our way as long as we trust ourselves and God. Our tendency is to let our fear get in our way and “bully” us into either a state of inertia or a state of panic—both of which disable us and make it impossible for us to act in our own best interest and for the greater good.
In this time of pandemic and political and racial unrest, it is easy to let fear grip us. Our future is uncertain and this causes us to feel insecure. It is in difficult circumstances like these, when I turn to the Serenity Prayer for comfort and guidance. At this point in my life, this prayer has been so helpful to me that it now hangs on my kitchen cabinet, lest I forget its infinite wisdom.
God, grant me the Serenity,
To accept the things I cannot change;
The Courage to change the things I can;
And the Wisdom to know the difference.
For me, this prayer is the first step in letting go of anxiety. The only way to get through the fear of the unknown is for us to accept what is happening to us and to truly believe that no matter what the outcome is, it will be for the best and God will get us through it.
God knows we are prone to worry. That’s why He tells us so frequently, “Do not be afraid.” This simple phrase holds God’s promise that we will always be wrapped in His loving embrace; that He will not abandon us. God knows that no matter how difficult a particular moment in our life might be, He will help us so that we will come out the other end of it stronger and more resilient than before. He assures us that if we put our faith and trust in Him, we will always be okay.
I leave you now with one of my all-time favorite prayers. It is from St. Francis de Sales. Next time you are feeling worried or anxious, read this prayer…let its words wash over you…soon you will be at peace.
Do not look forward in fear to the changes in life;
Rather, look to them with full hope that as they arise,
God, whose very own you are,
Will lead you safely through all things;
And when you cannot stand it,
God will carry you in His arms.
Do not fear what may happen tomorrow;
The same understanding Father who cares for you today,
Will take care of you then and every day.
He will either shield you from suffering,
Or give you unfailing strength to bear it.
Be at peace, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.
Deb Egan grew up in a Catholic family. Throughout her adult life, she has participated as a church volunteer in many capacities, including teaching Religious Education, being a Eucharistic Minister and Lector, Ministering to the elderly and homebound, and Facilitating Small Faith Groups. She has been trained by Evangelical Catholic and became a member of the Build the Faith Team in April of 2017.